★★★★½ - STUFF
- These days, a documentary can provide just as much of a rollercoaster ride for the viewer as an action movie or thriller.
Tales like Man on Wire, The Imposter and Project Nim brought to life little-known incidents from our past to compelling effect.
However, even an awareness of the twists and turns inherent in true-life stories like that won't prepare you for Tim Wardle's amazing and outrage-inducing look at the lives of Eddy Galland, David Kellman and Bobby Shafran.
The bizarre sequence of event began in the middle of 1961 when Bobby turned up for his first day at community college.
Concerned that he wouldn't know anyone, the 19-year-old was left bewildered when lots of people kept on greeting him and welcoming him "back". Intrigued to find out more about his supposed doppelganger "Eddie", Bobby sought him out and was shocked to meet essentially a mirror-image of himself.
It wasn't long before they discovered that they were indeed related, having both been born on the same day in the same hospital and adopted out, but investigations by local newspapers uncovered a further surprise – they had another sibling.
That's when the media circus truly began, as the trio were reunited and paraded around various talk shows and their story told in countless magazine articles. "I didn't know if this was going to be great or terrible," Bobby recollects.
Seeking to cash in on their fame, the triplets set themselves up as celebrity restaurateurs, while also seeking out their mother. And, it was at that moment, as Bobby admits, "things kind of got funky". The more they looked into their past and why they and their adoptive parents had never been told about their brothers, the further an uncomfortable and disturbing truth emerged.
Perfectly paced and cleverly constructed using archival footage and modern day interviews, Three Identical Strangers draws you into this fascinating mystery from the opening moments and will leave you shellshocked by its revelations.
A kind of Project Nim-meets-The-Truman-Show by way of The Wolfpack, Wardle does a terrific job of slowly revealing the real horrors of the triplets' situation.
He also lets his interviewees tell the story where possible, eliciting some haunting and telling candid comments and expressions which will stay with you for days and promote much post-movie discussion.
Stunning viewing, this is documentary film-making at its finest.
- James Croot, STUFF